The Reno County Commission in a couple of weeks will likely consider issuing a moratorium on the development of wind farms in Reno County, Commissioner Dan Deming advised.
“I think it’s going to be on the Nov. 13 agenda,” Deming said, noting there was no commission meeting Tuesday because two of the three commissioners are gone.
“I think it will be granted,” Deming said of a proposed moratorium. “The question is its length.”
The commission previously agreed more regulation needs to be in place to protect the entire county during wind development and tasked the Reno County Planning Commission with drafting proposed regulations.
Less than half of the county is currently zoned, so existing zoning regulations can only control development in those parts of the county.
A consultant helping the planning commission draft a new comprehensive plan suggested both the creation of the overlay zone and a moratorium while the county drafts the new rules.
While agreeing to the idea of a countywide “zoning overlay,” officials have been reluctant to impose a moratorium on development because of the progress already made on what will be the first commercial wind project in the county, the Pretty Prairie Wind Farm being developed by NextEra Energy in the southeast quadrant of the county.
The company, in private meetings with some commissioners and county staff, promised to follow the zoning regulations wherever it builds wind turbines.
At a meeting a couple of weeks ago, when Deming reported that, one of two county residents who has started to appear weekly seeking a moratorium, asked if the county had that promise in writing.
Last week, Deming said, NextEra did provide the promise in writing.
“The letter, dated Nov. 1, is signed by one of their vice presidents in Florida,” Deming said. “The company commits to applying the same rules and regulations in the unzoned and zoned portion parts of the county.”
In the letter, John Di Donato states that landowners, whether in zoned or unzoned locations, “will be notified of our permit application and will be invited to any public events that we host.”
“Furthermore, the design of our wind farm array and the location of our turbines currently follow and will follow all crossing and setback requirements in a uniform fashion,” the letter stated. “The design of the wind farm will not vary based on whether the individual turbine locations are in a zoned or unzoned area.”
“We always seek to build a partnership between our company and the communities that host our projects,” Di Donato stated. “We pledge to do what it takes to make Pretty Prairie Wind a project Reno County can be proud of.”
Still, the two women vocally pushing for a moratorium – Amy Brown, 7406 E. Fountain Green Road, and Kristina Horsch, 22591 Kent Road – say the current regulations in the zoned part of the county are insufficient to protect property owners and want stricter rules, including significantly larger setbacks.
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